Nature Play On Vancouver Island

Nature Kindergarten On Vancouver Island

Outdoor Games with five and six year olds

We returned to the forest today after a long break due to the wet and cold weather. It was such a joyful morning, cold but sunny.

We began in the meadow with a conversation circle followed by stories about raven, bear, whale and salmon. I told the story of Mary's Sweater and then we played two games. Playing circle games is so much fun, lots of laughter and great movement at the same time. Both of the games were new this week.

The first game , Grizzly Bear Is Sleeping includes a lovely song as well as a chasing game  and I have added a link to a youtube video 
so that you can learn the tune...... Soooo much fun.

Then we move to a wide area game. I have included a short list of games which lend themselves to forest play.

Two games are from

Where Is My Family? I chose four animals and we decided upon a sound for each animals  i.e. grrr. Then I whispered to each student the name of his/her animal. The children moved around making their animal noise and found other students who were the same animal.

Freeze tag- this game is often played indoors but is so much more fun in our meadow. The taggers tag a friend who stands arms stretched wide waiting for another friend to unfreeze them. After a few minutes I like to blow the whistle and have the children change roles.

Four Corners- this game is often played in the meadow where there is a circle of trees. The caller stands in the middle with eyes closed and counts slowly to ten. The children choose from one of four trees to run to and stand beside. Upon reaching ten the caller names a tree one, two, three or four and the children standing alongside the tree with that number are caught and go to stand beside the caller and together they count to ten. The game resumes until most of the children have been caught. 

Squirrels in the tree - this class favourite was learned from Margie Radigan. We have a fox, a loose squirrel and trees (2 children make a tree by holding hands).  Each tree has a squirrel in it. The fox chases the squirrel who runs to the nearest tree and switches places with the resident squirrel. The chase resumes and if tagged the squirrel becomes a fox and the fox becomes a squirrel.  After a few minutes I like to blow the whistle and have one child who is part of the tree to change places with a squirrel and then again a few minutes later so that everyone gets opportunities to run.

Frozen Critter (Project Wild Game) we usually play this game along the path in the forest. There are about four or five predators. I use the animals in Vancouver Island i.e. wolf, hawk, cougar and the rest of the children are prey i.e. rabbit, deer, mouse. We put chips on the ground which is prey's food and identify an area along the path for the prey den. The prey wear red pines. The object of the game is for the prey to carefully make their way to the food and bring it safely back to their den. If a predator comes near the prey freezes and the predator can't see him/her and keeps going. If the predator catches the prey then it is taken to a nearby adult and eaten. The adult releases the prey back into the game after a count to 10. partway through the game I blow my whistle and switch some of the prey into predators.

Camouflage Game (Project Wild Game) we usually play this camouflage game along the path in the forest. The prey is at one end of the path and the group of predators are at the opposite end (about 200 feet). The prey stands with his/her back to the predators and begins to count slowly to ten. About number 5 the predators begin to hide and camouflage themselves along the path. When the prey reaches 10 he/she turns and calls out names of any spotted children. Those children return to the beginning of the path and the count begins again. The first child to reach the prey slaps their hand and the game is either over or a new game begins.

Life Cycle Game - we learned this game from NS3 a local not for profit science organization. We have cards for each part of the life cycle and each child is given one card. They move and begin to look for someone with the next step in the life cycle and do a card exchange. This is a very busy and fun game especially if you have more than one animal!!!! As we have salmon eggs at school we played the Salmon life cycle game this week. Later during debrief you can have them sit with a partner and discuss the life cycle and then later in the day extend either through an art response or sketching the life cycle.

Bird Game - I learned this game a science workshop. We spread out half a pipe cleaner (warm colours) and then sort the children into four groups of local birds. Then we send them out to hunt for food for their families, bringing back "one worm" at a time. Lots of wings and chirping happens during their fun game. Afterwards sort the worms on a small tarp and have them discuss camouflage and how long it took to bring one worm back at a time. This game almost always leads to the children wanting to make bird feeders and sometimes a bird inquiry about local birds.

All of these games were active and lots of fun.

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